RE: Advocating Documentation and Support

Subject: RE: Advocating Documentation and Support
From: david -dot- locke -at- amd -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 8 Mar 2001 14:49:24 -0600

>But it's a different world now. Computers are appliances. And as such
>be as easy to use.

Sorry, but as right as the above sentence might sound it is not correct. For
the information appliance segment the above sentence is correct. But, for
technical enthusiasts it doesn't have to be easy, and it shouldn't even be a
product, so making it do something is up the technical enthusiast. Once it
becomes a product, it will start out with feature bloat in the early mass
market. And, over the successive products based on the same technology,
features will become sublimated. This happens as the technology moves into
the late mass market. Control will be assigned to the computer, but the
power of the function will still have to be provided.

This sublimation process builds affordances into the products. Affordances
have to evolve. You cannot design in an affordance the first time you
productize a technology. And, even if you did, your market wouldn't like it.

Moving from the information appliance market, phobics expect the product to
become totally embedded in hardware. One button will have to do it all.

We have to live on this continuum. What is right for a technology is not
right for a producitization. And, what is right for one productization is
not right for another.

An interesting side note is that things like the MS Style Guide are aimed at
Microsoft's next market. If you are not in that market, you might want to
think about those issues where your market is different. Writing
documentation for the information appliance market and selling to
enthusiasts is going to create problems. Most software companies out there
today sell to technical entusiasts, early adopters and early mainstream

David W. Locke


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October 24-27, 2001 at historic La Fonda in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.

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